New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: Is not one of the strangest and most naive arguments which we have heard during the debate on Iraq and al-Qaeda the suggestion that because they have sometimes been politically opposed they could not co-operate in precisely the way my hon. Friend [Richard Spring] has described? Often, a common enemy brings people with diametrically opposing views together. They want to destroy that common enemy, even if they hate each other as well.

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[Liberal Democrat Defence Spokesman, Colin Breed: … In their response to the [Foreign Affairs Select] Committee, the Government claim:

“Disarming Iraq removes the very real and catastrophic threat of international terrorists getting hold of weapons of mass destruction”.

That denies the possibility that the opposite will happen – that terrorists will take the opportunity to lay hands on hidden reserves of such weapons under cover of the fog of war. Why do the Government believe that Saddam Hussein, who has spent so much time, effort and energy in keeping hold of his weapons, might give them up to a terrorist organisation?]

Dr Lewis: It is not a question of Saddam Hussein giving up his weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. If he has retained a large quantity of anthrax, for example, he could easily spare some of it for terrorists, if he wanted to, without giving up the potential to use it himself.

[Mr Breed: I accept that it depends on how much he has. He may retain some and give up some; however, we have yet to determine whether he has any. He has made strenuous efforts not to divulge his weapons and to keep them as secret as he can.]

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Dr Lewis: Surely the distinction is not between nuclear weapons and the other weapons that the hon. Gentleman [Malcolm Savidge] describes but between the lethality of the weapons concerned. Just as there are nuclear weapons that kill many people and mini-nuclear weapons that are not weapons of mass destruction, so ricin is not a weapon of mass destruction, but anthrax is.